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ABPI suspends Abbott over code of practice contraventions
Abbott Laboratories Ltd has been suspended from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry for at least six months. Abbott will have to undergo an audit of its ABPI Code of Practice compliance procedures before readmission.
The suspension was imposed after the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority heard anonymous complaints about inappropriate hospitality in 2004 involving two trips to greyhound racing events for 63 health professionals, a visit to a lap-dancing club for one doctor, invitations to senior hospital consultants to attend the Wimbledon Tennis Championships and a hospital department Christmas dinner.
In each case, Abbott told the PMCPA that the staff involved, including the general manager responsible for the Wimbledon invitations, had left the company. It claimed that their actions did not reflect any deficiency in the company’s culture or processes.
After publication of the inquiries in the PMCPA’s February 2006 code of practice review, Abbott said: “Abbott requires its employees to abide by the company’s high standards outlined in its code of conduct. The company’s office of ethics and compliance conducts a prompt and thorough investigation into all allegations of inappropriate activity or behaviour. The company has a zero tolerance policy for behaviours that breach the company’s code of conduct. Sanctions are taken, including termination, if violations are found.
“The allegations made during this case relate to the individual actions of a small number of employees in 2004. Abbott conducted a thorough investigation and as a result, these employees either resigned or had their employment terminated.”
Suspension of ABPI membership is a severe sanction and Abbott is only the fourth company ever to have faced it. Previous suspensions were of Bayer in 1986, and Duphar and Fisons in 1994.
No company has ever been expelled from the ABPI.
In another case, GlaxoSmithKline has been given a public reprimand for failing to comply with an undertaking it gave the PMCPA after being found guilty of making an unfair claim of superiority for Avandamet (rosiglitazone) compared with sulphonylureas in promotional material. The amended material had made an even more unfair claim. Issuing the reprimand, the ABPI management board said that compliance with undertakings was essential if self-regulation was to be effective.
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Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal